- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

He has never made a secret of the fact that he was adopted as a child.

But Mayor Anthony A. Williams says people often think he’s from a privileged family. He credits his adoptive mother with raising him — and seven siblings — in the “nobility of hard work.”

The District’s mayor helped start the Work of Heart Regional Recruitment Initiative yesterday, with a goal of increasing the number of foster parents in the Washington area by 20 percent.

Supported by a federal grant and funding from the Freddie Mac Foundation, the program pays current foster parents an additional $500 a month to be part-time recruiters.

“We can tell you it takes every bit of everything you have in you, and it’s still worth it,” said Marilyn Egerton, who fostered more than 25 D.C. children over more than 13 years and adopted four of them.

The goal is to train and license at least 125 new foster parents to accept children with special needs and groups of siblings. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Freddie Mac will begin a $150,000 radio ad campaign in mid-April.

Work of Heart’s Volunteer Respite Program also will certify people to care for foster children one weekend a month, offering foster parents much-needed breaks.

“I’ve been in a situation where I’ve needed that break and have been unable to get it,” Mrs. Egerton said, adding that many foster children act out after being taken from biological parents.

Along with Mr. Williams, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona shared his personal story of adoption.

“These were truly gifts — I didn’t recognize how much I would get in return,” Dr. Carmona said of his three adopted children.

“I’d like to have my own orphanage,” he added.

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